profile 13


Vaughn Smith has made his living buying and selling high-end photographic equipment for 28 years. He has owned camera stores and a mail-order camera business. He also worked on the trade-show circuit traveling the country selling his wares. In 1998, with e-commerce strongly taking hold and quickly revolutionizing how people bought consumer goods, Smith decided he needed to add another dimension to his business. He partnered with his friend David Pierce, a Web developer since 1996, to build an Internet site where Vaughn Smith Cameras could sell directly to its customers.

The web site, buoyed by Smith’s reputation and his existing customer base, did well. But within a few years, the business partners realized they needed to open up another sales channel on eBay. Neither man had done much buying or selling on the auction site, but they couldn’t ignore the buzz it was getting, particularly among buyers and sellers of camera equipment.

“I had never done any business on eBay at all, not even as a buyer,” Pierce admits. “Then I saw the prices and the ease that eBay offered. Unfortunately, it was after we’d spent quite a bit of money building our own e-commerce site.”

Pierce and Smith knew enough not to throw more good money after bad, and began migrating more and more merchandise to eBay’s auction marketplace.

“To me, eBay is what the Internet should be all about from a merchant standpoint,” says Pierce. “We switched over into selling everything on eBay. Photo ...

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